There has been a lot of talk lately about disclosure, transparency and some bloggers/influencers doing the wrong thing. Those comments are fair enough. If you are being sold something as a reader or follower, you have a right to know it.
But I’m also in enough Facebook groups to know that there are quite a few misunderstandings on the brand and reader side as well.
So I’m hoping to clarify a few things.
This year, particularly with my focus on a sustainable closet, I’ve stepped away from sponsored fashion content on the blog.
Being back in the corporate sphere means that I can’t dedicate the kind of time sponsored content needs. But just because it’s currently inauthentic and impractical for me doesn’t mean I have anything against sponsored posts.
I know enough bloggers to see how sponsored content works well.
Here are the myths and the truths …
Blogging is an easy way to make money
Ah, the dream. Believe me, the bloggers that make a full time income are working full time hours (and more). For every easy breezy Instagram post, there are a plentiful rejected shots. Paid for posts are agonized over for hours. To build a community to a point that brands are interested takes an incredible investment of time. None of it is easy or a free ride. No matter what the Instagram feed might look like. These are people with businesses and businesses get paid.
Most blogs, like this one, are a side project (please don’t call mine a “hustle”). Brands will reach out to the smaller players and it feels good to be recognised. But it also takes time and talent to promote someone else’s product. Proximate value should be exchanged.
Bloggers accept any and all sponsored opportunities
Good bloggers work very hard to build their brand and their content. They respect their readers and are grateful to them. Foisting advice or a product that departs from what readers want and feels inauthentic is a patently bad move.
Most of the bloggers I know say “no” more often than “yes”. So even if a post is sponsored or gifted, if your favourite “influencer” is wearing it, it means they like it. It makes sense — brands are looking to extend their customer base and find people who will buy their product. So the style between brand and blogger has to align for it to work.
In fact, many collaboratorioms between bloggers and brands are born first through a customer relationship. #sponsored doesn’t mean #sellout. #gifted doesn’t mean #wouldn’thaveboughtit
You start a blog and brands throw product at you.
I must admit, I thought my mailbox would be stuffed with goodies within weeks of first hitting publish on the blog. Does. Not. Happen.
Once an audience is obvious, yes brands send things. But once an audience is big enough for that to occur, it’s often just another thing to manage. It becomes part of running a business.
So brands shouldn’t be surprised if sending an unsolicited “gift package” doesn’t result in a 600 word post accompanied five social media spots. Many larger blogs have an audience that far exceeds traditional magazines and expectations should align with that.
Even smaller blogs with smaller audiences aren’t obliged to post just because a product appears. If it’s not a good fit, you don’t have to wear it (physically and metaphorically).
Bloggers need to be clear and transparent about what has been gifted to them and being paid to promote. Kylie from Kidgredients has written a great post about this.
Brands should think carefully about who they want to collaborate with and the audience they will reach through that collaboration. And be realistic about budget and expectations.
Readers deserve transparency but also should understand collaborations, gifts and sponsored content. Blogs aren’t free to run and they take work. Accepting sponsored posts (that make sense to a blog’s readership) doesn’t mean a blogger is selling out. It means that they can continue to provide awesome content.
How do you feel about sponsored content and gifted items?